October 04, 2004
The British have much to answer for. It seems they don't even understand the basics of property, such as giving land back to the people you took it from, rather than someone else. Now the good people of Sulu in the southern Philippines are again pushing their territorial claims to Sabah, now a province of Malaysia. But even worse was the deal the British negotiated. Malaysia's Government pays annual rent of RM5,000 (about US$1,300) to the Sultan of Sulu as compensation. The payment of rent implies the land is still properly belonging to the Sultan of Sulu, even if the land itself is rented in perpetuity. What exactly have the British done for the world?posted by Simon on 10.04.04 at 01:13 PM in the
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i am not going to rise too far to the bait, but i would point out that we gave the world australia, where you claim to hail from, hong kong, where you are happily paying 15% tax so can go "home" to australia and lord it over all the poor suckers who have been paying 50%+ while you've been away, and of Britain - which is what it says on your passport i believeposted by: giles on 10.04.04 at 01:58 PM [permalink]
again, without rising to the bait too much....can anyone name one famous australian inventor?
what have great britains given the world? cricket, rugby, darts, televison and radio broadcasting, the telephone, the hoover, penicilin, the clockwork radio, monty python and the office.
i once heard an australian boast that the man who gave the world the rotating washing line came from his home town. impressive stuff.
jonny wilkinson comes from my home town - and you can rest assured i've told a few aussies about that one.posted by: aaron on 10.04.04 at 03:07 PM [permalink]
Erm, so when are you gonna hand back Sydney to the Darrug tribe you borrowed it from? Or do you pay rent to the Sultan of Darrug?posted by: Mick on 10.04.04 at 03:16 PM [permalink]
Mick, while the history of Australia's land titles is a long and interesting one, I'll point out it was again the British who "took" the land, and there was no rent negotiated. It was simply taken. However I'd be happy to discuss the merits of native land title and the Australian system whenever you like.
Aaron and Giles, you have to weigh up that against the other little things you gave the world, like a hotchpotch of random borders, whinging, Lady Di and, well, you two.posted by: Simon on 10.04.04 at 04:16 PM [permalink]
just my two penneth's worth: the brits also took singapore from the johoreans (that southernmost state of johore of peninsular malaysia) by paying a pittance to the so-called rightful sultan of johor. i said so-called 'cos there was this power struggle between said sultan and another rightful heir that the johoreans recognised.
till this day, said sultan's descendants are still compensated by by the singapore government. also, till this day, to the johoreans - and some malaysian malays - singapore belongs to them. just take a peek at the KLIA, flights to singapore are considered as domestic, just like the rest of the country.
yet i don't hear any whimper from the present sultan of johor demanding singapore to be returned to them. nor whingeing that the brits are cheats. like that sad self-styled filipino sultan.posted by: the letter b on 10.04.04 at 06:05 PM [permalink]
There is truth in this, B. While I will be the first to admit that several borders changed or were created by the British to the long term annoyayance of us all, by the same logic we should remove Pakistan from the map, Kuwait as well, and Dissassemble Singapore and turn the Malayan penisula back into a swamp.posted by: Phil on 10.04.04 at 07:48 PM [permalink]
All splendid ideas, Phil. You've obviously been away from Mud Island for too long.posted by: Simon on 10.04.04 at 07:53 PM [permalink]
Actually, there is another island that gives the Brits and the Americans something to answer for-a tiny little island called Chago island, which the Brits owned, forced the natives out, and then leased to the Americans. It's a little island called Chago, in the Indian Ocean. There are no natives left there.
It's the oldest story in the world, and has been happening for centuries, will keep on happening, and p*sses us all off, frankly. I'm not pointing fingers, saying who's right or wrong, or proposing a solution. It just happens.
At least there are no more stores of Marmite on Chago, anyway. Progress. :)posted by: Helen on 10.05.04 at 02:45 AM [permalink]
The question I always wonder about is, "so how did the fellers the [pick one: British, Americans, French, Spanish] took the land from get the land in the first place?"
In many/most/all cases, I think they or their tribe took it by force from some less powerful fellers who were there before them.
For some time now, I've been working hard on a secret plan to restore peace to the Middle East - by taking the land from both the Israelis and Palestinians and giving it back to its rightful prededing owner - the Philistines !
I'm still looking for my first Philistine, however.posted by: Anarchus on 10.05.04 at 10:02 AM [permalink]
Hey, I'll be a Philistine.posted by: Simon on 10.05.04 at 10:10 AM [permalink]
A common law jurisprudence beyond compare. A (relative to every other) streamlined, efficient and fair civil service and a great many other advancements that we consider essential for the machinations of a fair and free state.posted by: John Swaine on 10.05.04 at 10:27 AM [permalink]
Ahh, you blogged about it. Anyway, I must point out that the British North Borneo Charted Company didn't lease what was once Sulu Borneo - they bought the sovereignity of the land at 5,000 Mexican dollars a year.
Just because there is no time limit to the payments, doesn't mean that the Sulu Sultanate has any claims left to Sabah.
I blogged about it: http://blog.rajanr.com/?itemid=450posted by: Rajan R on 10.05.04 at 01:06 PM [permalink]
Everyone should go check Rajan's post on this.
John, would that be the same civil service that provided such good advice to Tony Blair over Iraq? The same country that bases its constitution on unwritten and ambiguous rules? Common law, being law decided by unelected officials? Yep, plenty to be thankful for there.
What the UK does offer is the Royal Family. A wonderfully anachronistic institution that fills so many newspages and magazines, boosting tourism and being a great experiment in in-breeding.posted by: Simon on 10.05.04 at 01:45 PM [permalink]
god save your gracious queen eh simon.
i had no idea this drivel was still going on.
what was done in the past was at the time considered enlightened thought. it was an attempt to expand "civilised" british influence and bring order, chaos and "civilisation" to all parts of the globe. in aprticualr africa which was viewed by all westerners at the time as a lawless and feudal place where western laws and customs would improve the lot of the natives. and the invasions were not exactly difficult - they weren't wars as we know them now - in the immortal words of edmund blackadder, in the late 1800's and early 1900s "if you saw someone in a skirt you shot him and nicked his country". with the exception of chaka zula and his infamous impis (don't point those bloody spears at me!) most places didn't put up a fight and we just walked into and imposed rule on chaos - a bit like australia walking into the solomon islands say!
it is easy to now look back and view imperialism and the random drawing of borders and partition of countries with horror, but no doubt in 100 yrs time people will be looking at todays decisions and wondering what the hell everyone was doing.
certainly with hindsight mistakes were made but at the time the decisions were in line with the accepted thinking and policies of the age.
let's hope your blogf stands the test of time eh simon. i'd hate to think people would look at it in the future and think you were an idiot too.posted by: giles on 10.05.04 at 06:57 PM [permalink]
I don't think that's fair, Giles. Plenty of people think I'm an idiot already.posted by: Simon on 10.05.04 at 08:35 PM [permalink]
The Brits gave HK back to the natives. Maybe the Queen should do the same with Australia. She is still the Australian head of state isn't she?
Do you ever look at your workmate Giles and wonder if you beat him senselessly with a can of Vanilla Coke and stuffed him in the desk cupboard, if anyone would object?
I'm just asking, you know.posted by: Helen on 10.06.04 at 07:24 AM [permalink]
thanks for that constructive criticism Helen. i haven't ever read your blog, and based on those comments never will either. As Simon is aware most of my comments are tongue-in-cheek, tho it does annoy me when people apply todays standards to things done in the past. i was just trying to make the point that sometime in the future people will judge todays actions, which may seem logical and rational now (unless you are talking about Iraq obviously), by their standards, which may easily be wildly different to ours, and wonder what the hell we were doing.
and no he can't beat me to death with a can of vaniulla coke and stuff me in a work cupboard because
a) our coke machine here doesn't have vanilla coke, and i can't believe he'd bother to go and get some from outside to do it
b) our work cupboards are non-existent
and c) i'm bigger than him
if it makes you feel better he does regularly thrash me at squash though.posted by: giles on 10.06.04 at 12:51 PM [permalink]
Giles-for a guy who says he writes so tongue in cheek, what a pity he can't recognize when other people write tongue in cheek...
Try to relax dear. Remember your blood pressure and all.posted by: Helen on 10.06.04 at 03:26 PM [permalink]
have reread your original comment and it still doesn't look tongue-in-cheek, but if you say it is then i shall accept that.
and i still stand by being annoyed by people jduging the past with the benenfit of hindsight.posted by: giles on 10.06.04 at 03:36 PM [permalink]